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Pomegranate, Feta, and Chive Pinwheels

Everywhere we go everything is decorated. And while there may be a whole spectrum of ‘holiday’ colors, red and green are by far the stars of this show. One thing I don’t see a lot of? Festive dishes.

Hold on, let me stop you right there. I’m not talking about the traditional holiday favorites. Or even all the cute ones made to look like Holiday favorites, like our Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread or our Christmas Tree Pancakes. Those are a given. I’m talking about ‘decorated’ festive dishes made specifically with Christmas colors in mind. My Mom used to say that at least half of her enjoyment in a dish wasn’t just taste or even presentation, but about the colors and whether or not they spoke to her. She loves a vibrant presentation, and I can honestly say that I’ve come to appreciate one as well.

Pomegranate & Feta Pinwheels 2

Red pomegranate arils and bright green chives stud a bed of snowy white feta and whipped cream cheese, and it’s all wrapped up into perfect pinwheels. Talk about the total package! Visually engaging with a mouth-watering flavor combination, these just beg to be included in your Christmas buffet or at any holiday party.

Pomegranate, Feta, and Chive Pinwheels

Pomegranate & Feta Pinwheels

8 oz whipped cream cheese
5 oz crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup chives, chopped
⅓ cup pomegranate arils, rinsed and gently patted dry
4 fajita size tortillas

Directions

  1. In a medium size bowl, stir together the cream cheese, feta, chives and pomegrante arils.
    2. Spread the cream cheese out evenly over all four tortillas.
    3. Roll each tortilla tightly (like you would a Swiss or jell roll) and wrap the roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the filled tortillas for at least one hour, or overnight if making ahead of time.
    4. Use a serrated knife to slice each tortilla into 12 pinwheels before serving.

recipe adapted from Melanie Makes

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Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The fun doesn’t stop when we’ve finished painting, carving, decorating, whatever-ing our pumpkins, and have packed everything away. Hell, who am I kidding, yes it does. But everybody loves Mom’s homemade pumpkin seeds so they have to just suck it up and help me through the painfully slow process of rinsing and completely separating the seeds from every last bit of pumpkin goop.

Despite the dragging feet, and whining the whole way, in the end they’re always happy to be able to enjoy the finished product.

Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

And this seasoning blend did not disappoint. They were toasted to perfection with the perfect blend of bold Cajun spice and a solid savory with hints of paprika and Worcestershire.

Think pumpkin seeds aren’t your thing? Think again, or at least you’ve got to give them another try. With the proper seasoning, pumpkin seeds are an amazing snack. And this blend is one of our Fall favorites.

Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Cajun Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 2

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 scant teaspoon Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1/4 tsp paprika
salt, to taste
2 liberal dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp melted butter

Directions

  1. Rinse the seeds well and remove as much of the pumpkin pulp from them as possible. Some of the small pieces are going to adhere, but they won’t hurt anything. Think of those teensy, tiny pieces as flavor booster. Pat the cleaned seeds dry with paper towels. Do this quickly so they don’t stick too much.
    2. Toss the pumpkin seeds with the seasonings. Stir together the melted butter and Worcestershire, and then stir them into the seeds until they’re evenly coated.
    3. Roast the seeds at 300 degrees, stirring & turning from time to time, like every 20 minutes, for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until nicely browned and crunchy.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats

One night, my defenses had been systematically whittled down enough that, I let the youngest son have the dregs of my Mountain Dew Voltage. It was in a glass and he didn’t know exactly what it was other than some kind of soda, which he’s rarely allowed to have.
Handing me the empty glass to put in the sink: “Mom, that tasted like it gave me powers, super powers. I know it didn’t, but it tasted like super powers.”

Aaaaaaaaand, that is why you my son are not allowed to do The Dew. Like, ever.

Protein & oats however, make much sturdier fare (and a better breakfast option) for any real-life Super Heroes in-training. And pumpkin pie is such an obvious Fall flavor. Combining the two was a no-brainer.

And overnight oats? They’re quick and easy enough for Super Heroes of any age to whip up, or just to lend a helping hand. Throw everything in a mason jar (or pretty much any seal-able container your heart desires), give it a good stir, and let it sit overnight while you sleep. When you wake up? A protein packed, breakfast that tastes like dessert will be waiting to greet you.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats

 Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1.  Add all of the ingredients to a mason jar or other plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and stir everything until evenly incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Serve cold.

*To fit in with dietary restrictions or requirements, you can use a sugar alternative such as Splenda or Truvia in place of the sugar, and you can also sub Gluten-free oats if necessary.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Sweet, dark cherries stirred into a deceptively ‘skinny’ chocolate batter that’s then baked into healthy muffins that are sinfully delicious.

 Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

With these you can have your cake and eat it too, AND still feel good about it.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 3

Pair these with a glass of milk for an indulgent start to any morning. Or enjoy them with a glass of milk (or wine, just sayin’!) for a sweet treat that’s a great ending to any day whether it’s for dessert, or a not-so naughty midnight snack.

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Skinny Chocolate Cherry Muffins 2

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large egg whites, or one large egg
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp  baking powder
1 cup chopped dark sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
chocolate chips for sprinkling on top, optional

Directions

  1. Prepare a cupcake/muffin tin by spraying the cups generously with non-stick cooking spray, or you can use cupcake liners (but they won’t pull away clean from the baked muffins).
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract, mixing them until the batter is evenly combined without any lumps left.
    3. Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients, just until everything’s evenly incorporated, but also making sure not to leave any flour pockets lurking behind. Gently fold in the cherries using a spatula.
    4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups, filling them as close to the top as possible. Bake the muffins at 425 degrees for 5 minutes then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done. If not, bake for about 2 more minutes.
    5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow It to rest, cooling for about 3 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
    * These muffins also freeze well, making a great grab and go breakfast or snack option. Just put them in the refrigerator the night before to thaw, and pop them in the microwave in the morning to reheat.

Pumpkin & Olive Oil Dinner Rolls

It only took me 29 years to figure out my problem. And a debilitating one it was! From September – December, every year, it’s the season of Pumpkin everything. And I didn’t like pumpkin. Survival was a struggle. It was real, ya’ll. So good thing this year, I was able to self-diagnose and resolve my issue. It’s not with pumpkin. I actually like pumpkin (well, in certain recipes). My issue is with pumpkin ‘spice’. Which actually makes me feel kind of dumb, because it’s well documented that I abhor cinnamon, and a lot of other nutty flavors, like nutmeg and allspice, so it is only logical that I would loathe pumpkin ‘spice’.

Now that I’ve gotten that all squared away, I’ve been going a little pumpkin crazy, well with pumpkin purée, not the pie filling, well because the ‘spice’. And these soft and savory rolls are by far my favorite thing I’ve discovered yet. The pumpkin adds extra vitamins and fiber, without altering the doughy, yeasty bread taste in anyway. So basically, they’re more healthy than regular rolls, and they taste amazing, and because they have pumpkin in them they’re pretty much mandatory at Thanksgiving and any other Autumn activity.

Pumpkin & Olive Oil Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Olive Oil Dinner Rolls

1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing/brushing
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp, pumpkin puree
2 cups, plus 1 tbsp, all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to mix all of the ingredients listed together, at a medium speed, until evenly incorporated and everything pulls together into an elastic, slightly sticky dough ball.
    2. Use the extra olive oil to grease the inside of a large bowl. Use your still oiled hands, and then pick up the dough and transfer to the prepared bowl, turning it over just until all sides are coated with the older be oil too. Cover the bowl, we use plastic wrap or a dish towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has sufficiently risen (but not necessarily doubled in size), about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Grease a work surface, such as a clean, clear kitchen counter, with olive oil and then turn out the dough onto the prepared surface. Knead the dough For about a minute and then pull it apart into roughly 8 equally-sized pieces, gently rounding out each into a ball again.
    3. Grease a 9″ round cake pan with olive oil and place all 8 rolls in the pan with equal spacing between. We got seven in an outer circle with the eighth in the middle. Cover and let the dough rise again for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the rolls have expanded to cover the surface of the pan and are touching each other and the sides of the pan.
    4. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully form a loose aluminum foil tent over it and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and brush the tops of the rolls with some additional olive oil. Let the rolls rest and cool for five minutes , and then gently run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the rolls before removing them individually.

recipe adapted from My Sequined Life

Healthy Peanut Butter Apple Dip

It’s that time of year again. No, not the one where the world’s dressed in white and everything you hear sounds like Christmas. The one before that. The one that starts right after Labor Day. The one that is harkened by different shades of purple, orange, and black. The one with candy, fruit, and gourds a plenty. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of posts featuring apples and oranges orange.

Healthy peanut butter apple dip

Even when it’s not Apple-picking season at our local orchard, we go through *at least* 10 lbs in a regular month. It’s one of the sons’ go to after school snacks. Pair it with a scoop of peanut butter, and they’re in heaven. BUT serve them with this dip? And you’re both going to be feeling great, because A. It’s delicious, and B. You know that it’s as nutritious as it is yummy.

The Best Ever, Healthy Peanut Butter Dip

Healthy peanut butter apple dip 2

Peanut Butter (we prefer using homemade, organic, or an all natural style since they’re of a thinner consistency)
Greek yogurt
Honey

Directions

  1. Mix together 1 part peanut butter, 1 part Greek yogurt, and 1/2 part honey, stirring until smooth and the dip’s a uniform consistency. Serve with sliced apples for dipping. The sons like apples, pretzels, and grapes with this dip. It can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks, just give it a good stir before serving as some separation is bound to happen.

Esquites ( Mexican Corn Salad )

Do you have a Mexican food stand at your local Farmers Market? Or a local food truck claiming authentic Mexican street fare? If the answer is yes to either of these, then you’ve probably come across this dish before. If not, you’re in for a treat.

The name literally means ‘toasted’ corn.

 Etiques (Mexican Corn Salad) 2

And it’s the smokey, sweet, spicy, and tangy off the cob cousin of elote (creamy, cheese coated corn on the cob), and it’s packin all those same feisty flavors. So, it does not disappoint.

Were just loving all these de-constructed versions of things recently, aren’t you? Convenience is priceless.

Even better this corn salad can be served hot or cold, so it’s perfect for a toasty, comforting side dish in the Winter months, and also easily adaptable for a cold corn salad to bring to any Summer barbecue.

Esquites ( Mexican Corn Salad )

Etiques (Mexican Corn Salad) 3

2 tbsp butter
2 cans corn, drained or 4 ears fresh corn cut off cob
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp Cojita cheese, finely crumbled (or shredded Mexican blend cheese)
1/8 tsp chili powder, to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
    2. Add the corn to the pan and allow it to slightly char on the bottom of the pan, then give it a good stir and let it char one more time.
    3. Stir in the jalapeno and remove the skillet from heat.
    4. Transfer the corn mixture into a medium/large bowl and add in the mayonnaise, garlic, onions, cilantro, lime juice, cheese, chili powder and avocado.
    5. Gently stir everything together just until evenly incorporated.
    6. Serve immediately (warm) or cover and refrigerate, serving when chilled, your choice. Both ways are great.
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